Hawaiʻi Food Hubs Gain Federal Support

Picture of Harmonee Williams

Harmonee Williams

Executive Director

Hawaiʻi Good Food Alliance and Hawaiʻi Food Hub Hui Receive Funding to Support 12 Leading Food Hubs Across Hawaiʻi

November 24, 2021, STATEWIDE – The United States Department of Agriculture Regional Food Systems Partnership grant program has made an $829,510 investment into Hawaiʻi’s leading food hubs through a partnership of the Hawaiʻi Good Food Alliance and the Hawaiʻi Food Hub Hui, with matching funds provided by The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

The two-year project, titled “Hawaiʻi Food Hub Hui: A Statewide Partnership for Supply Chain Integration” focuses on increasing the success and collaboration of twelve food hubs across five Hawaiian islands to increase growth and sales while sharing best practices to strengthen Hawaiʻi’s local food system and supply chain integration. Strategies include providing convening and technical assistance, increasing producer outreach and onboarding into food hub markets, and marketing to build the demand for local food across regions.

“An important aspect to this work is leveraging public-private partnerships to further food hub development to address the ongoing processing, storage, and transportation gaps in the local food system supply chain. We know food hubs are catalysts for food systems growth in Hawaiʻi and are thrilled to have the opportunity to advocate for further partnerships, investments, and institutional buying statewide, and to see the impact of their work accelerated.”

Hawaiʻi Food Hub Hui members participating in the project include the Moloaʻa ʻĀINA Center of Mālama Kauaʻi (Kauaʻi), Sustʻāinable Molokaʻi’s Mobile Market (Molokaʻi), Kahumana Food Hub & Organic Farms (Oʻahu), Roots Cultural Cafe, and Food Hub of Kōkua Kalihi Valley (Oʻahu), Oʻahu Fresh (Oʻahu), Maui Hub (Maui), Local Harvest (Maui), OK Farms (Hawaiʻi), Adaptations (Hawaiʻi), Hawaiʻi ʻUlu Cooperative (Hawaiʻi), Kohala Food Hub (Hawaiʻi), and The Food Basket (Hawaiʻi).

The Hawaiʻi Food Hub Hui has been meeting since 2017, but it was Hawaiʻi’s food hubs’ ability to quickly pivot that resulted in demonstrated success during the pandemic. According to the group’s data collection efforts, participating hubs grew by 200-300% in revenues generated, employees retained, customers served, and farmers supported.

Hawaiʻi’s food hubs, in their role as aggregators and distributors of local food, and sometimes processors, play key roles in coordinating mid-tier value chains as integrated supply chain entities. The participating hubs strengthen the profitability and competitiveness of small- and medium-sized farms and ranches, often structured as family farms. All of the hubs also create and/or sell value-added products, many buying from and selling to the same producers. 

Currently, the 12 participating hubs collectively have over 2,600 wholesale buyer accounts statewide, and through this grant are aiming to grow that number to 9,500, with an additional project emphasis on institutional purchasing, which should grow sales even further.

“A key component of this work is growing the number of local farmers and food producers benefiting from Hawaiʻi’s food hubs,” said Dr. Saleh Azizi, the lead organizer of the Hawaiʻi Food Hub Hui and Community Development Coordinator at Kahumana Food Hub & Organic Farms in Waiʻanae. “This support is the beginning of a new and promising momentum for Hawaiʻi’s family farmers and local customers whereby food hubs lead the way in re-kindling the agricultural pathways that once made Hawaiʻi a thriving nation.”